Sometimes the Best Way to Lead People Is to Be Unavailable

15 Aug

Availability is different than visibility. You can be visible but unavailable. And good leaders are often very visible. They make their presence known. They let their people know that they are on top of things and present to the organization.

Good leaders are also very approachable but, again, being approachable is different than being available. If you are approachable it means people trust that you will be a good listener, provide insight, compassion, and direction where needed. People know that they can approach you because you have their best interests at heart.

But good leaders are not always available. Good leaders are sometimes away from the day-to-day movement, problems, and successes. Good leaders spend their time thinking through and working through the current big-picture trends. Good leaders step away to reflect. Good leaders step back and make sure they do not have to do any crisis management. They know crises can become addicting. Leaders understand the perspective they gain by stepping away.

Good leaders also know that being too available does not give people a chance to problem solve on their own. Good leaders do not train their people to come to them with all of their problems; some problems, yes, but not all. Good leaders know they must trust their people to solve their own problems.

Good leaders also know that stepping away allows other leaders to emerge. It allows people space to think in a different way because no matter how approachable and helpful a leader is, their words and actions tend to stifle creativity and emerging leadership if always present in problem-solving situations.

When is the last time you led by being unavailable?

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